How much should small businesses invest in social networking?

By | April 1, 2011

With micro blogging website Twitter having over 200 million users and over 600 million Facebook accounts existing worldwide, social media and networking are becoming key to communicating with people as whole (and therefore potential clients) and it can also aid your company’s brand awareness. This is why many larger businesses have invested the time and money in creating entire departments dedicated to this contemporary realm.

Although creating such a department is not a reasonable task for smaller businesses with tighter budgets, I would still recommend that small businesses have at least one person running at least one social networking account on your behalf daily – even if that person is you. This is because Twitter only really works to benefit your business if you use it consistently (users who tweet on a very sporadic basis are unlikely to yield many followers or create buzz around there brand) and an unkempt Facebook page is hardly attractive to users.

OK, so you are probably still wondering what benefit social networking sites can have to your business. Let me explain by the way of example…

Twitter can – and should be – used like an entire catalogue of potential customers. I regularly buy brightly coloured hair dyes from one particular website (who are the only UK stockists of this highly sought after dye) who does not use the platform as effectively as they should. The shop in question does have a twitter account in place but it only has a few followers – a handful of their already regular customers. The business is ran and controlled by one woman who should make the time – or hire someone who does have the time – to locate potential customers via the platform.

Simply searching Twitter for tweets containing the words “pink hair” brings up a plethora of latent buyers. From doing this search right now I can see several people who already dye their hair pink, a few asking where they can locate good pink dyes and someone wishing they “had pink hair.” The account maintainer can even use the advance settings to make sure that only UK based users appear in the results, as to match the locations that the business is willing to post merchandise to.

A simple “@” tweet to each of these users would create the users awareness of the stores existence and if only one in every five – or even ten – becomes a long term customer then the efforts of the business are rewarded. The same method can be applied to “green hair”, “blue hair” (etc) and other keywords such as “Goth”, “emo” and “alternative” – the most effective terms for yielding new customers will become apparent over time with experimentation.

If I were running the social media channels for the online dye shop then I would apply a similar method to Facebook. I would post a link to the website on the walls of groups such as “UK metal heads”, “UK alternative scene” and the various fan pages for “pink hair” since I know that each of these would also be comprised of potential customers sick of the other, non-lasting bright hair colourants on the market. Even though the web store hosts many pictures of its clientele showing off their newly coloured, outrageous hair, I would also set up a Flickr (a social network in its own tight) account containing these same pictures so that they have to the potential to reach even more people who might be searching the image hosting website for pictures tagged with “blue hair” or “crazy hair” (etc.)

Discussing all of the ways in which social networking channels can facilitate the reach of a small business is impossible but this article has hopefully made it clear that such avenues are deserving of significant consideration. Businesses may be able to get by without such measures but this will possibly affect profit margins and it does not reflect well on businesses in this digital age.

About the article writer: Kat Cole has ran quite a number of social media campaigns for in recent years, including one for Quick Offices who specialise in offices to rent. You can follow pink haired Kat on Twitter @DeadBoomerang.